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Ideas Roundup: Are Employees the Future of Work?

Four great articles on innovation and employee engagement fill out this edition of the roundup, so let’s get right down to it.

Jacob Morgan writes about the “future of work” — and the five types of innovation it requires. First out of the gate is innovation from, you guessed it, employees themselves.

What Morgan explores here is exploding the notion of having a certain slice of the workforce engaged in innovation. Dump that and build out your “innovation ecosystem” using all of your employees while leveraging the power of Internet-wired technology and you’ll find something special that is future proof. Says Morgan:

The idea that any and every employee can be connected to each other and to the information they need to get their jobs done anywhere, anytime, and on any device means that innovation can happen literally anywhere. An employee who just finished ringing up a customer at a retail store may have noticed a way to improve the employee experience, a call-center agent might have an idea to reduce call-time, a knowledge worker may have a suggestion for how to improve employee engagement, and a member from the janitorial staff might have an idea for how to reduce costs on wasted supplies.

Amy Morin spoke to four CEOs about employee motivation: What’s the motivation secret sauce? She discovered some great lessons, from scheduling flexibility (giving employees better work-life balance), putting yourself in the shoes of frontline employees and seizing upon opportunities — especially small ones — to reward people.

Another motivation lesson learned, Morin found, is by simply having an open channel for employees’ ideas and concerns:

Listening to employees and taking a genuine interest in their feedback could be the simplest, yet most effective way to boost employee performance. An Ohio State University study found that “feelings of being in on things” was the seventh most important factor in motivating employees.

Next, in a column on Gen Y workers, Ladan Nikravan of Chief Learning Officer interviews author Dov Baron on how leaders can create and sustain the loyalty of millennial workers. No. 1, Baron says, is transparency — “The kind of transparency I am speaking of is far more than simply revealing the financials of your organization to the employees. In order for today’s leaders to create loyalty, they will also need to be transparent about who they are, and what truly matters to them.”

With loyalty comes engagement, and for employees to be engaged, the one they’re following must set the right example, not pay lip service to engagement.

To have engaged employees, you must be an engaged leader. The leaders who are keeping their people loyal are the ones who are passionate about what their organization does, what it stands for. Leaders who are engaged in a deeper purpose of their organization are the leaders who will inspire their people to stick around.

Finally, on the employee happiness file, the CEO of an employee-perks startup looks at the steady progress of the idea that employees who are smiling at work are your best workers. How to get there? In part, make sure your company lives its values and, hey, loosen things up with more flexible schedules.

While progress will be gradual, organisations are waking up to the understanding that it no longer makes business sense to consider employee happiness as an after thought. It must become part of the overall business strategy; one that factors in productivity, retention and talent acquisition.

Until next time, happy ideating and engaging!

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